What are Matn, Sanad and Isnad?

In each hadith, there are two elements: sanad or isnad, and matnSanad or isnad is the chain of narrators of the hadith, while matn is the text of the hadith. Take the following hadith reported by Al-Bukhari as an example: 

Al-Bukhari reported that: Yahya ibn Bukayr narrated to us from Al-Layth from `Uqayl from Ibn Shuhba from `Urwah from `A’ishah who said, “Whenever the Prophet was given an option between two things, he used to select the easier of the two as long as it was not sinful; but if it was sinful, he would remain far from it.”

The phrase “Al-Bukhari reported that: Yahya ibn Bukayr narrated to us from Al-Layth from `Uqayl from Ibn Shuhba from `Urwah from `A’ishah who said” represents the chain of narrators or isnad.

The statement “Whenever the Prophet was given an option between two things…” represents the matn of the hadith.

Courtesy:http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1158658458467&pagename=Zone-English-Living_Shariah/LSELayout

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